Quickflix CEO tells Netflix to bring it on
Stephen Langford, CEO of Australian streaming service Quickflix, confirms "business as usual" after shares change hands, while he is eager to battle Netflix face-to-face in Australia.
Quickflix CEO Stephen Langsford has reassured subscribers that nothing will change in the wake of Nine Entertainment buying out HBO's shares in the company.
Nine Entertainment is the parent company of the Nine Network, one of the three commercial free-to-air television networks in Australia.
Yesterday, Nine purchased all of the 91,165,092 redeemable convertible preference shares of Quickflix previously held by HBO. A Nine representative told CNET that the buyout -- reportedly worth AU$1 million -- was a "small, opportunistic financial investment".
Quickflix is one of Australia's larger players in the fairly new market of video-on-demand services. The company also offers a disc rental service via mail. As of April this year Quickflix had 137,059 active users.
"It's business as usual," Langsford told CNET. "We're busy developing our new site design, we're constantly looking for new content deals."
More importantly, Langsford said that the buyout will in no way alter the content deals that Quickflix has with HBO, saying that the "relationship remains strong".
While not willing to comment on the motives behind Nine's investment, Langsford said that it "highlights the opportunity that's available to people will to embrace the technology".
"Globally and in Australia broadcast companies are seeing that they need to diversify to over-the-top streaming," Langsford said. "Some are talking about it and some companies like Quickflix are getting on with it."
"We're not just talking the talk," he added. "Globally, we're in a world where there's so much fantastic content. There's a value in on-demand content. There will continue to be growth around this because of the strong consumer demand."
When quizzed about the strong rumours suggesting that Netflix will make a move into Australia next year, however, Langsford became less casual.
"We've always contemplated that other services like Netflix will arrive," he said "That's great for consumers and it'll keep us on our toes. We're confident we're offering a broad range of content at a competitive price, on a broad range of devices. We offer subscription and transactional options, new release movies and HBO content -- we have a lot that Netflix doesn't."
But, Langsford stressed, this is dependent on Netflix officially opening in Australia and not arriving via the "back door" of local subscribers using VPNs to circumvent the service's geoblocking. This practice is surprisingly widespread, with some stats suggesting that the Australian Netflix subscriber base has tripled in the past year.
"Do you want to see a strong local competitor that invests locally, or do you want to give a free kick for the players who don't even have to pay Australian tax? We're putting our money where our mouth is. We're used to competing against big players and we'd welcome Netflix to the market.
"Just come through the front door, Netflix, and we'll happily complete on even ground."